D-backs starter leads club to series win over Dodgers
By Jake Rill
PHOENIX -- D-backs manager Chip Hale said his team's level of success is dependent upon its starting pitching. In the first half, the starters struggled and, likewise, so did the club.
To fare better in the second half, Arizona will need starts such as the one it got in Sunday's 6-5 win over the Dodgers. Robbie Ray tossed seven scoreless innings, constantly working out of tough jams, to lead the D-backs to the series victory.
"We set the tone of the game, we set the tone of the series," Ray said. "The starters, we've got to come out guns blazing the whole time, not letting up and not letting guys get back into the games in that fifth, sixth, seventh inning. It all starts with us."
Ray's outing was bookended by a pair of 1-2-3 innings in the first and the seventh. In between, the Dodgers sure had their chances to score against the Arizona left-hander.
Perhaps Ray's toughest jam came in the second, when he loaded the bases with no outs following a double, a hit-by-pitch, and a walk. But he struck out A.J. Ellis and Zach Walters consecutively before getting Kenta Maeda to fly out to avoid any damage.
"Just kind of stayed focused and stepped off the mound and coached myself to get back to where I needed to be," Ray said.
In the third and sixth innings, Ray allowed the leadoff batter to reach. But both times, he induced double plays to avoid damage.
Ray had been struggling recently. In his last four starts of the first half, he went 0-3 with a 6.04 ERA. He allowed three or more runs in each of those outings.
The D-backs left-hander got back on track in his first start of the second half, as he was in command from the start and struck out seven -- the sixth straight start he has fanned six or more.
"He dominated his fastball again," Hale said. "Very impressive, used his breaking ball. I thought [catcher] Tuffy [Gosewisch] did a really good job behind the plate using the breaking ball. I think the one he struck the guy out and it got by Tuffy, just filthy, a filthy pitch."
Ray helped the D-backs win consecutive games at home for the first time since June 11-13, when they won three straight at Chase Field. They'll look to carry the momentum from just their fourth series win at home into a two-game set against the Blue Jays that begins Tuesday.
"That's a great accomplishment, but we're just going to take it and roll with it," Ray said. "The goal is to win every series and we came out the second half and won this one, so just keep it rolling."
Jake Rill is a reporter for MLB.com based in Phoenix. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.